Book Review of Wake Up And Live By Dorothea Brande
First published in 1936, WAKE UP AND LIVE! is a result of its author’s experience. After evaluating her life, Dorothea Brand realizes that, like so many others, she is not living up to her true potential. She comes across a formula for success – act as if it were impossible to fail – which transforms her life. A writer by trade, Brande’s output soars after her eureka moment.
In Wake Up and Live, Brande talks extensively about failure, devoting four of the twelve chapters to it. Though so much time and emphasis is placed on failure, you do not feel overwhelmed while reading the book, but you get a better sense of what failure is – its many different faces – how it manifests in your life, and what to do to transform failure into success.
Brande presents her point of view of identifying the common denominators for those of us who are under the grip of the Will to Fail. She also provides three very different real life case studies to support her premise. “There are still more obscure and unnoticeable ways of falling victim to the Will to Fail, ways to which introverts and extroverts are almost equally susceptible. Consider the innumerable persons, for instance, who deliberately undertake work which calls for only a small part of their abilities and training, and who then drive themselves over useless details.”
Her remedy for preventing failure and implementing the formula for success is for individuals to visualize or vision a past success, and get into that feeling state, so that when they are ready to undertake any endeavor, they can go back to that former state and experience success. When you get to the heart of what she is saying, a lot of what Brande says isn’t new, however, she presents the information differently, and as an added treat she provides us with 12 disciplines to help us to make our minds both keener and flexible and live successfully. Her 12 disciplines include: spend an hour every day without saying anything except in answer to direct questions; learn to think for 30 minutes a day exclusively on one subject; talk for 15 minutes each day without using I, me, mine and my; before you enter a crowded room, pause at the door, and consider for a moment your relation to those who are in it; and plan two hours of a day and live according to the plan.
If we take the discipline of pausing before entering a room, the author’s intent is to train us to see all the possibilities in front of us, and the aim of the discipline pertaining to planning our day is to “give ourselves the experience of being under orders again, and second, to demonstrate how badly we lose our sense of time necessary to accomplish any stipulated activity.” When we master sticking to our plan for two hours, increase it to three and so on until we can stick to our plan for an entire day.
Five Great Ideas
- Know thyself!
- When undertaking any endeavor, act as if it were impossible to fail
- Those who reach success are likely to be constant workers
- No one can dictate another’s personal definition for success. Success may or may not include recognition from your peers, and greater financial rewards. Someone who is living responsibly, usefully, effectively, happily, and taking advantage of opportunities and natural gifts is a success
- It is the sum of small things successfully done that lifts a life out of bondage to the humdrum
Wake Up and Live by Dorothea Brande is worth reading to get yet another perspective on living a fulfilled life. Just practicing the 12 disciplines will allow us to wake up and live a more purposeful life. A small book of 182 pages of large print, Wake Up And Live by Dorothea Brande is an easy read. At the very least, ask yourself, “What would I be doing in life if it were impossible for me to fail”?
Excerpt from February/March 2007 Ambeck Edge